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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the Season: SnagFilms

At this chilly, festive time of year I can't seem to keep visions of streaming video from dancing in my head. My new favorite site--launched back in 2008--is SnagFilms. SnagFilms provides free online access to over 1,700 fine documentary films. Many of the titles they offer online can be found on DVD in Lilly Library's collection, but the big hook they provide is free streaming access. No software or downloading is required; a good broadband connection is a plus, of course. And have I mentioned that you can watch the films for FREE???

The site relies on advertising to generate revenue for filmmakers and to support its enterprise. SnagFilms founder, Ted Leonsis, espouses a philosophy of "filmanthropy," and one of the admirable aspects of SnagFilms is that it connects documentary with a mode of action. They tie each film in their library to a charitable effort related to the topic of the film--many of them selected by the filmmaker--so you can learn more and get involved, immediately.

The SnagFilms collection is a fantastic complement to the documentaries placed on Video Reserve every semester at Lilly. Faculty--please opt to "snag" the streaming video titles you assign your students. Build an embeddable playlist and put titles directly in Blackboard. You'll be promoting a worthy site, and your students will be most pleased. Repeat their mantra: "Find. Watch. Snag. Support."

Here is a small sampling of what's available through SnagFilms:

Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me
(Lilly DVD 3809)

What Would Jesus Buy?
by Rob VanAlkemade
(Lilly DVD 11077)
Times of Harvey Milk
by Rob Epstein
(Lilly DVD 14855)

Occupation: Dreamland
by Ian Olds and Garrett Scott
(Lilly DVD 5587)

by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman
(Lilly DVD 14665)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Darnton on Research Libraries and Open Access

Sometimes it's hard to get a sense of what your average, intelligent member of the general public thinks of academic research libraries, or if they think about them at all. I have a handy rule of thumb that helps a little with this: pay attention when Robert Darnton is talking. Darnton's new article in the New York Review of Books is entitled "The Library: Three Jeremiads," and in it he reviews the "plight of American research libraries in 2010" for members of the public and of academe.

You may not have access to the article linked above unless you or the institution to which you are affiliated has paid for access to the NYRB. And that's a very small object lesson in what has Darnton, the director of the Harvard University Library, so riled up: the ever-increasing cost of electronic subscriptions to scholarly periodicals (especially in the sciences) takes up a huge portion of most research library budgets, even though the faculty of the institutions contribute most of the content to those periodicals.

Duke's Academic Council has adopted an open access policy which confronts this problem by supporting the deposit of published articles by Duke's faculty in an online institutional repository, open to the public. You can read about the policy, the repository, and the reasons for the decision to support open access on this page. Duke's Scholarly Communications Officer, Kevin Smith, has also discussed it extensively on his beloved Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog.

Monday, November 29, 2010

By Mozart, For Haydn

The Libraries play host on Tuesday, November 30 once again to the University's own Ciompi Quartet, in a lunchtime concert in the Perkins Rare Book Room. The concert is part of a Duke Performances series, and the Ciompi is focusing this year on the canonical works of Mozart. The Rare Book Room is a wonderful space for chamber music, and this week's performance will feature one of Mozart's String Quartet in A Major, K. 464, one of the "Haydn Quartets," so known because the composer dedicated them in admiration to Josef Haydn, his contemporary.

These informal lunchtime concerts are free and open to the public. Quartet members give informative and lively comments about the piece to complement the performance, and questions from audience members are welcome. Bring your lunch and enjoy a respite from the end-of-semester rush!

The Libraries can offer just a bit of reading and listening to whet your appetite in the meantime....

The Oxford Music Online database includes the monumental Grove Encyclopedia of Music, and more. A great source for background information.

Books and other resources about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Sound recordings in the Music Media Center, Biddle Building, East Campus

Among the resources the Libraries is considering adding to our collections is the database
Classical Scores Library Online.

(See for example Achtzehntes Quartett (18th Quartet) in A Major, K. 464; by Mozart, (Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus (composer); Breitkopf and Härtel (publisher); published 1907; University Music Editions (collection); 18pp)

Give it a try and add your comments about this or other trial databases in music and other fields.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Making room for innovative labs in the Humanities

Humanities in Higher Education

The call for more substantial support for the Humanities in Higher Education is being heard and the good news was reported in an article in the Boston Globe on November 8th. In it, Cornell, Harvard and Dartmouth are slated to be pledging support for literature and the arts and Brandeis, with new funding, has built the Mandel Center for the Humanities in an effort to contribute to the restoration of the Humanities.

Interdisciplinary Humanities

Despite budget cuts in the Humanities many universities have been stalwart patrons of the Humanities. Scripps College, has, since its inception in 1926, been committed to a core curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities, citing smart agility and the ability to navigate ambiguity in a complex world central to “discovery and innovation.” UC Santa Barbara has, since 1982, cultivated an Interdisciplinary Humanities Center anchored by the Humanities Institute, bringing interdisciplinary research into public discourse with conferences, lectures and film series. In 1984, the Interdisciplinary Humanities journal was launched and continues to be published by the National Association for Humanities Education.

Innovative Humanities labs

The Townsend Humanities Lab is a community driven digital network of resources set up to support interdisciplinary research at UC Berkeley. Their website provides the toolbox needed for the kind of collaborative work that involves "text annotation, image annotation, visualizations, mapping, and collaborative authoring," and is open to all Berkeley scholars.

At Duke University, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, founded in 1999, is an interdisciplinary humanities center and the administrative headquarters for the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. In 2011 -2012, the Franklin Humanities Institute will be launching their Humanities Laboratories beginning with the Haiti Lab; a collaborative effort led by a core team of four to five faculty in the humanities, interpretive social sciences and other Duke research units, and graduate and undergraduate students who will work in teams on research projects.

These and other labs are among a new form of Humanities education that will provide innovative ways to enhance critical thinking and discovery across multiple disciplines with the goal of generating new research and knowledge.

On December 3rd, the Professional Affairs Committee of the Librarians Assembly at Duke will present a brown bag discussion on the Haiti Lab to brainstorm about the way librarians can be involved in future Humanities Labs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reclaiming (and Digitizing) America’s Cinematic Patrimony

On Oct. 21, 2010, during the second annual meeting of the Russian-American Working Group on Library Cooperation, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington was presented with digitally preserved copies of 10 American silent movies—considered lost for decades— from the Russian Federation, represented by Vladimir I. Kozhin, Head, Management and Administration of the President of the Russian Federation. A brief description of each of these films can be found in the following Library of Congress press release.

Due to neglect and deterioration over time, America has lost more than half of the films produced before 1950. In addition, more than 80 percent of movies from the silent era (1893-1930) do not exist in the U.S. In the past 20 years, the Library of Congress and others have made great efforts to locate and repatriate missing U.S.-produced movies from foreign archives.

As part of its partnership with the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, the Library of Congress received a gift of 10 movies that constitute the first installment of an ongoing series of “lost” films produced by U.S. movie studios that will be digitally preserved by Gosfilmofond, the Russian state film archive, and presented, via the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, to the Library of Congress. Preliminary research conducted by the staff of the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation indicates that up to 200 movies produced by U.S. movie studios of the silent and sound eras may survive only in the Gosfilmofond archive. Digital copies of these films will eventually be sent to the Library of Congress.

Erik Zitser, PhD

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spatial Humanities

In 2007 the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and the University of Virginia (UVA) co-sponsored a symposium to explore how geography informs the humanities and vice versa. Participants included geographers who routinely engage the humanities in their research, humanities scholars who incorporate geography in their own work, and popular writers or artists who use geography to underpin key facets of their work or whose projects engage geographic ideas meaningfully in their conception or implementation (from the 2007 program).

The papers presented at that meeting have now been published as a volume of essays in:

The Spatial Humanities. GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship.

Michael F. Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, notes: "Space—whether it be the space of the choreographer's dance floor, the artist's canvas, or the religious shrine—has always been important to humanist scholarship. But in recent years a virtual explosion of new data, tools, and concepts has revolutionized our ability to examine the relationships, patterns, and contexts that emerge when the human world is examined through a spatial lens. This book brings these ideas into focus for the first time, presenting a cornucopia of ideas, examples, methods, and suggestions for further reading that will be invaluable to anyone seeking to adopt a spatial approach to humanist scholarship, or to understand why it has attracted so much recent attention."

Chapters include: Turning toward Place, Space, and Time; The Potential of Spatial Humanities; Geographic Information Science and Spatial Analysis for the Humanities; Exploiting Time and Space: A Challenge for GIS in the Digital; Qualitative GIS and Emergent; Representations of Space and Place in the Humanities; Mapping Text; The Geospatial Semantic Web, Pareto GIS, and the Humanities; GIS, e-Science, and the Humanities Grid; Challenges for the Spatial Humanities: Toward a Research Agenda .

This sub-specialty in humanities research is so new that it does not yet have a main entry in major literary or philosophical encyclopedias. The best definition of Spatial Humanities may evolve in a series of lectures at UC Santa Barbara’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center on Geographies of Place. The presentations I will be watching for are on “Chronographies” and the new media in historical research as well as "Snarled Megalopolis," a multi-disciplinary exploration of unplanned urban spaces such as slums and shantytowns.

Follow this link to the location of the book at Duke Libraries.

Heidi Madden, PhD

Friday, November 5, 2010

"The Suicide of the Humanities"

Dr. Raymond Tallis will deliver a talk, "The Suicide of the Humanities," at the National Humanities Center on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 5pm. Dr. Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist, and cultural critic whom the Economist's Intelligent Life Magazine recently listed as one of the top living polymaths in the world. Dr. Tallis's most recent publications is Michelangelo's Finger: an Exploration of Everyday Transcendence (London: Atlantic, 2010).

Click here for more information and to reserve space for this event.